Latino Acculturation and Health Project


“I have a larger image of what my life is, and of the world. When I go there to Mexico, and I’m there with the people, my people, they don’t know the other 50% of our life. And when I’m here, the people here don’t know about that other part either. I think that my life is bigger, richer.” –Mexican mother

We seek to understand what life is like for Latino adolescents who were born in a foreign country and immigrated to the United States. We wish to know how these adolescents and their parents adjust to life in the U.S. and how cultural changes influence adolescent health. We also want to see how Latino immigrant adolescents are similar to or different from Latino adolescents who were born in the United States.

The long-term objective of the Latino Acculturation and Health Project is to use research to promote health and prevent injury and disease in Latino adolescents. The major aims are to increase health protection, enhance quality of life, and reduce health disparities for Latino youth. In order to move toward these overarching goals, we examine how acculturation processes influence health decisions for Latino adolescents. The study’s specific aim is to map modifiable risk factors that lead Latino adolescents to engage in negative health behaviors such as alcohol, tobacco, and drug use, aggressive behavior, and suicide. We also delineate cultural assets and protective factors that influence Latino adolescents to engage in health-promoting behavior.